The other day I was talking to my Mom about schools doing eLearning during this Quarantine and how hard it is on both teachers and parents. “UGH” My Mom said, “I could not IMAGINE trying to do eLearning with you kids. That would be an absolute NIGHTMARE!” Wow, I thought. A little rude, MOM, telling one of your children that your worst nightmare would be spending all day with them. I THOUGHT YOU SAID WE WERE YOUR FIVE BLESSINGS?! This is not the first time she’s said this since the quarantine started. We get it Mom, your five kids were lunatics.
After I was done taking in this insult, and pulling the knife out of my heart she so casually threw in there, I started to think about how hard it would be for my Mom to be with us ALL DAY. Then I stumbled upon a photo from Easter when I was a baby. Seeing this made me understand why this would be my mom’s nightmare:
I don’t want to speak for all my siblings, but I’d say most of us weren’t the most studious kids around. After school we really had no interest in doing more school work. I was probably the worst offender on this. I hated sitting down to do school work and would do anything to get out of it. I had better things to do, like play outside or see how many suction cup hooks I could get to stay on my face as you can see from this photo here:
I must say, the five of us were pretty creative in some of the things we would do. Our parents were late in the game in getting cable so we really had to entertain ourselves. One of our favorite things to do when we couldn’t play outside was rollerblade in our carpeted living room. Talk about a cardio workout! It was not easy to roll around on that carpet. This was an activity we could only do when my Dad was out of town-he didn’t really appreciate us rollerblading inside. My Mom didn’t really mind, she saw the carpeting as better padding when her clumsy children fell.
The four of us girls also used the living room as our stage to make music videos to our favorite NSYNC, Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears hits. We’d rehearse for a few hours and then give our parents the painstaking task of not only sitting through our show, but filming it for us so we could review it later in order to perfect our dance moves and play our dance in both slow and fast motion. (Jumping off the couch or a chair and doing a spin looked a lot cooler in slow motion). Classic youngest child Jane, having grow up watching MTV with her older siblings, chose, how should I put this, some pretty risque dance moves. She loved to replicate Britney Spears in her early “Baby One More Time” days. Jane even liked to take her show on the road, volunteering to perform at different graduation or family parties. My parents soon after put the kibosh on Jane watching MTV with her siblings.
Sadly, after we redid our living room, getting reupholstered furniture and replacing the rollerblading carpet with the “8 Million Dollar Carpet” as my Dad referred to it (and we now still call it, 20 years later), we could no longer roller blade in the living room. I still remember my dad’s lecture he gave us after our living room and dining room were redone. I think he just got the bill from the interior designer so his blood pressure was a little high and he was on edge. “Now listen!” My Dad said, as the five of us sat in the TV room. We could see the beads of sweat on his bald head and the panicked look in his eyes as he thought of all the money this new living room was costing him. “I don’t want ANY of you kids rollerblading in the living room anymore! We practically had to refinance the house after installing that 8 Million Dollar carpet Mom decided to pick out! And I don’t want ANY of you kids laying on the reupholstered couch in there either! The last thing I need is your dirty, greasy, gross bodies staining that fabric! Just stay out of the living room as much as possible!”
If we weren’t rollerblading we were using our parents bed as a trampoline. We had a nice system going where we would line up in my parent’s closet (in order to get a running start) and use the closet doorway to hold onto, lean back and catapult ourselves onto the bed, doing our best flips and somersaults mid-air. Why enroll in gymnastics class when you have a queen sized bed you can just run and jump on? Honestly can’t believe the Jesse White Tumblers didn’t recruit us, we were so good.
After we tired ourselves out a bit we would all get out our backpacks and sit at the kitchen table to do a little homework. It was a little crammed, and fights would break out if you accidentally got your papers into someone else’s “area” but it was fun all being together, jamming out to some music as we worked away. My mom would be in the kitchen with us, getting dinner prepped and checking on us periodically, helping with various homework problems. As the years went on, and my Mom cared less and less, (both about our homework and dinner) the younger kids relied on the older kids to help them out with homework. This system worked pretty good until we got down to Jane. We were all pretty tired by the time Jane needed help on homework. She racked up quite a few pink slips for “not turning in homework.” Sorry Jane! She turned out ok though.
After homework and dinner we focused our attention on dessert. We NEVER let our parents forget about giving us some sort of dessert every night. If you acted up or didn’t do your chores my parents used “no dessert” as a punishment. Unfortunately for me, being born a “smart-ass” as my parents so affectionately termed me, I spent a lot of nights going without dessert because of my wisecracks and sarcastic remarks. My mouth got me in a lot of trouble. I just couldn’t help myself in getting the last word in. So many times instead of having dessert, I would be laying on the kitchen floor crying as my siblings sat at the table eating ice cream or cookies.
Some nights when the dessert supply was running low my Dad would “raffle off” the last cookie or scoop of ice cream, whatever it may have been. There would be a series of coin tosses between the five of us and the winner would get the dessert. Some times it would be a real nail biter on who would be the last person standing. Many times this caused a lot of fights, usually some tears, but it was very entertaining for my Dad.We were just reminiscing about it the other day and my Dad was laughing hysterically thinking about it:
Dad (laughing so hard tears were in his eyes): “I remember you five little brats would be like vultures all wanting the last Oreo. Certain kids (I’m not going to name any names) would be sore losers if they lost and go off crying after the last coin toss. [Dad continues laughing more] Ahh that was good.”
Me: “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have been so cheap and just bought another pack of Oreos for us instead of starving your five children!”
After us fatties got our fill of food, we finally settled down to go to bed. For some reason we found it soothing to fall asleep to various Disney movie soundtracks. Our favorite being “The Lion King.” Because what’s more relaxing than loud African music blasting in your bedroom-AHHHHHH ZENWENNAAAA BADA DEE SEE BABA (I have no idea what the actual African lyrics are to the opening of The Lion King but it sounded like that.) So we made our parents tuck us in and start the Lion King tape before they turned off the lights. Since I hated going to bed (I could never fall asleep) I would always try and delay my parents turning off the lights, asking various dumb questions to stop them. My parents favorite one of my questions that they still laugh about to this day is the time I asked them “What bones are made of.” Classic insomniac, doing anything to stop bedtime. Once we were finally all asleep, our parents finally got a much deserved and much needed break from us.
Looking back on all of this I have so much respect for my parents putting up with us every day. Sure, we were five blessings, but we were also five nutcases. Now I get why my Mom said she can’t imagine what parents are going through during this quarantine, and I can’t either. This quarantine has really made me appreciate not only my parents but all parents dealing with their own “blessings” at home. All I can say to parents out there is hang in there, be strong, and maybe buy an extra pack of Oreos.